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Self Defense Class Teaches Life Skills

Posted by Lisa LaGrou January 18, 2010 Family Health

altI visited the Women’s Self-Defense Seminar January 16 at the Costick Center in Farmington Hills. The Farmington Hills/Farmington Emergency Preparedness Commission (EPC) presented the seminar and it was a valuable experience for all the attendees, including me.

Put on by the EPC, the participants (ranging from young girls aged 11 + to grandmothers) learned several skills.  The class was taught by Jeff Duncan, master instructor and Sixth Degree black belt, and his wife Connie, second degree black belt and chief instructor. They were supported by 16 black belt instructors from Farmington Martial Arts. This allowed the participants to be broken down into small groups and have a lot of opportunities to practice the skills one on one with a trainer.

Before teaching the skills, Jeff Duncan spoke to the group.  He believes in taking a healthy approach to safety and describes what he does as “health insurance.” He gives you skills to keep you healthy. And like health insurance, when you need it you’re sure glad you got it.

Many of us may think we live in a safe area and do not need these skills. But, we need to remind ourselves that we do venture out, and anything can happen. Also, Jeff Duncan feels it is never too early to teach our children about dangers and some ways to stay safe. We can teach them basic concepts such as being aware of our surroundings, being cautious and suspicious of vans parked in a lot for an extended period of time, stranger danger, etc. Kids are known to be helpful. One mom said she was preoccupied and her son reminded her to park far from a suspicious vehicle. It’s effective to have everyone on board.

Jeff started the session with four awareness tips to remember (the acronym is SAFE):
1. Setting strong verbal boundaries. If you’re uncomfortable in a situation, be firm when expressing yourself. We tend to be too polite, and this interferes with the strength of the message and its clarity. For example, “That’s very nice of you to offer to help, but I’m fine” vs. “I don’t need your help!” Are you more worried about coming off harsh, or being attacked?

2. Be Aware of your environment. Avoid situations that have the ability to escalate to violence. Learn to recognize the warning signs of a potential attacker.

3. Recognize how you Feel. If you feel afraid or uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. Recognize it and use it to your advantage.

4. Extend your training. Practice the skills you learn frequently so they become second nature.

The first skill he taught was a front kick. I won’t go into full detail here because you need to learn these skills in person in order to do them appropriately. But, to demonstrate the value of what was taught, here’s an example of one lesson I will remember. Jeff explained that although it might feel like instinct to kick an attacker in the groin, this is not advised. An attacker is fueled with adrenaline and it may not phase him. Additionally, men have learned to protect that area. And finally, that area is small in comparison to the huge pelvic bone it is surrounded and protected by. Your chances of being effective are much greater if you kick into the stomach. There is no adrenaline that will stop the aftermath of getting kicked into the gut.

Other strike related moves were taught for the majority of the course – palm strikes, knee strike and an elbow strike. The intention here is to learn the skills that will prevent you from getting into a worse position, i.e. when you have been captured and are in the attacker’s hold.

If an attacker has been successful in getting close enough to pull you into his grasp, you need to exercise close range drills. These include wrist releases, choke release, headlock release and more, rear bear hug release, and more. 

These skills are valuable for anyone to learn. Young girls, teens getting ready for college, moms, etc.

The self-defense classes are held twice each year in January and August. This is the 9th time it’s been held and the class has reached 716 students! This most recent session had 92 participants which resulted in $1020 in donations to HAVEN!

The Farmington EPC was rated #1 in the country for preparing the public and was the FEMA, National Citizens Corps 2009 “Preparing the Public” Award winner. They do a fantastic job with the seminars, and the presenters that work with them were great – honest, sincere, caring, and friendly. And the proceeds go to HAVEN. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Suggested Readings
The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
Protecting the Gift by Gavin De Becker

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